Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pity the poor posterior

click photo to enlarge
Public seating is becoming a recurring theme in my images. I've captured a curved (seemingly never-ending) bench, a seat that rotates to keep the occupants out of the wind, and an example made of curls and swirls. All these structures have two features in common - they are interesting to look at (and therefore to photograph), and they're pretty awful to sit on. Today's photograph shows a further example that shares these qualities.

The seating, known as "The Sampler", is outside "The Hub", Britain's National Centre for Craft and Design, at Sleaford, Lincolnshire. The red and yellow seats are painted metal discs on short poles - no backrest, cold to the touch, and not made with the human anatomy in mind. The large black structure has a big, central, parasol-like, metal disc on a pole, with a couple arms that extend from it (some are out of shot), with circular black seats and tables(?) that are mounted on wheels. A big open square shape that can be fitted with a screen(!) is also part of the ensemble. The structure was originally designed to rotate so that anyone who is foolish (or desperate) enough to sit on it could experience a different view should they so wish. However, it has now been fixed in place after boisterous local youths found it an exciting attraction. Perhaps they had read the views of a local spokesman who said “the piece is designed to be exciting and dynamic, and we hope it will become a focus for social as well as creative activity.”

There are many problems with this structure: the Arts Council funded price of £18,000 for a start; its design that manages to make something flimsy out of unyielding metal; the likelihood that it will never to be used with a screen and projected images; but most of all the fact that the designer created a structure that is best experienced not as you sit in comfort upon it, but as you gaze down at it from the balcony at the top of The Hub! The multiple black circles with the red and yellow highlights and the buff curve make a Miro-esque composition that must have looked great on his or her drawing board. However, one can only wish that as much thought had gone into its purpose as a place of repose as went into its function as a piece of eye-catching, multi-purpose street sculpture. It is clearly a form of public seating that follows the modern trend of trying to combine sculpture with a place to sit, and like other examples of the genre, sculpture has taken precedence over the provision of seating, with uncomfortable consequences for the public's posteriors!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40mm (80mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On